Research news

3D rendering of cellular growth
Professor Les Christidis
Professor Les Christidis PVC Research Infrastructure

Research@Southern Cross University

Welcome to the latest Research Newsletter. Professor Mary Spongberg is having a well-earned break, and it’s my pleasure to introduce the May 2024 Research newsletter. As usual, it’s packed with useful information on Southern Cross University’s events and notable achievements. Enjoy!

Professor Les Christidis
PVC Research Infrastructure
Dean, Graduate School

Old building, traffic signs

Living Lab update

Look Ahead: Ideas for a future Lismore

Earlier this year when Living Lab Northern Rivers brought the community together to share ideas and dreams for Lismore CBD and the surrounding flood-prone areas, some clear ideas for the town emerged. These included safer and more diverse housing, better connectivity and active transport, a vibrant CBD, increased food security, and healing and regenerating the river and surrounding environment. Importantly, our community also indicated they want confidence in a clearer future.

A panel of design experts then studied the results of these community meetings, exploring the town, hearing local stories and lending their experience to devising some future scenarios for Lismore.

Living Lab Northern Rivers will be presenting these ideas for a future Lismore next month, where the community will learn more about these scenarios, ask questions and share feedback.

When:    Tuesday 4 June (5:00pm-6:30pm)

Where:   Lismore Heights Bowling Club

Register now
Learn more

Let's Stick Together: Arts-focused workshop

If you’d rather roll your sleeves up and explore these future scenarios in a creative workshop, join us for Let's Stick Together. Claudie Frock will be facilitating a collective community-focused collage workshop that’s open to all ages, skill levels and abilities.

When:    Thursday 13 June (4:30-6:30pm)

Where:   Living Lab Northern Rivers shopfront, Lismore

Register now
Learn more

A Home for Every-body: Inclusive design and community led research

Living Lab Northern Rivers recently brought research and local knowledge together in a Living Lab talk: A Home for Every-body.

Researcher Phillipa Carnemolla, together with Northern Rivers locals Andy and Cath Graeme-Cook and Zac Misfud, joined us in our shopfront for a presentation and panel discussion on inclusive design and community-led research.

Watch the recording
Read the highlights

Man in navy coloured shirt looking at camera

Getting to know our Research Cluster Leads

This month we’re learning more about the ZeroWaste Research Cluster Lead, Professor Dirk Erler, who also serves as Chief Investigator for the University’s ReCirculator program.

Dirk’s full research profile is on the Southern Cross University website

When or what was ‘the moment’ you knew you wanted to be a researcher?

I realised in my first week of studying marine science at uni that all 300 students in my cohort weren’t going to get a job in this field so, after a lecture with a particularly engaging academic, I asked him how I could ensure I did get a job in marine science.

He said: 'You can either work for someone, or make your own job. One of those is stable; the other is interesting.’ I chose ‘interesting’, but many times along my path I’ve wished I’d chosen 'stable'!

How will the Research Impact Clusters change the way research is conducted at Southern Cross University?

The Research Impact Clusters will galvanise researchers and give them a common purpose. We’re not making all research fit into a box; rather, we want to provide the platform for researchers to engage and expand their own capabilities, ultimately building stronger researchers and better research outcomes for the University.

What do you feel are the best aspects of the Research Impact Clusters?

It’s important that the Clusters are a shared space that encourages collegiality. They also need to be fun. We want researchers to enjoy their work and feel excited about being involved in the Clusters.

What sort of engagement will RIC’s undertake with internal and external stakeholders?

The ZeroWaste cluster in particular is heavily focused on industry engagement and cross-faculty collaboration, and the breadth of topics this Cluster covers warrants our taking this approach. Such diversification will provide both flexibility and strength.

What would you like to see the RICs achieve?

We all want to see positive outcomes for individuals and for the University. The clusters need to build individual capacity; success for the University then follows.

What’s your ultimate research project?

I’d love to see an industry research precinct on campus that’s centred around the Circular Economy and is teeming with projects, students, academics and partners.

Lady smiling at camera

Clare Thorpe appointed to Federal Government committee

Big congratulations to Clare Thorpe, our Director, Library Services, on being appointed to the Federal Government’s Public Lending Right Committee.

Clare’s appointment as an Australian libraries representative acknowledges her extensive experience of more than 25 years leading libraries in the arts, government and higher education sectors. This was noted by Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, when announcing Clare’s appointment to the Committee, alongside that of author representative Mr Steven Carroll.

As a key element of Revive – Australia’s national cultural policy, the Public Lending Right Scheme is being modernised include audiobooks and eBooks, to further ensure Australian writers and publishers receive the funding that due to them.

Very well deserved recognition, Clare!

Professors James Bennett-Levy and John Hurley secure Peregrine Centre grants for rural mental health projects

It was great to see two Southern Cross University academics secure Peregrine Centre/NSW Health grants to explore ways of addressing the pertinent issue of mental health in rural and remote areas.

Professor James Bennett-Levy’s project, Reconnecting with Nature: Healing Climate-Related Trauma Through an Innovative Nature-Based Compassion-Focused Program, will look at designing best practice for promoting mental health recovery for people affected by climate-related disasters.

Other SCU Chief Investigators on the grant are: Dr Ruben Laukkonen, Associate Professor Eric Brymer, Dr Janet Schloss and Professor Jon Wardle. Prospective PhD student Matt Pennell will also take a significant role in the project.

This study has particular relevance to the Northern New South Wales (NNSW) region, where three major floods and two bushfire seasons are estimated to have left thousands of residents with disaster-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The project will develop and evaluate a nature-based group intervention program aimed at reducing climate-related PTSD.

Professor John Hurley is leading The Lighthouse Program: Evaluating the effectiveness of a stakeholder-informed online training programme for parents, carers and supporters of 10–13-year-olds with unmet mental health needs in rural, regional and remote settings.


This project will look at alleviating the well-documented impact of extended wait times in rural and remote areas for mental health services on children’s and parents’ wellbeing. The research will investigate and evaluate the effectiveness of a co-designed online training program to enable parents and carers to minimise risk to children who are awaiting professional mental health services.


We’re looking forward to hearing more about these projects as they’re developed.

laptop sitting open on table with green foliage

From the Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor's Office

Have you seen the changes to the Research Productive?

The Tableau Research Productive Dashboard now accounts for part-time staff research metrics by including FTE in its productivity calculations, effective from 1 April 2024.This update ensures fair assessment of publications and HERDC income, relevant to their employment fraction.

Data spanning 2020–2022 will be updated to 2021–2023 in August 2024. Staff should update their dashboard details, and new users can register online. For help, contact [email protected].

IRMA header

IRMA Researcher Reports now self-service

IRMA Researcher reports are now available to researchers on demand, self-service on the Tableau Online platform.

The report spans the years 2020 – 2024, with a list of recorded IRMA publications, external grant funding (both awarded and applied) and HDR supervision in PDF format. The report is commonly requested for staff performance reviews and grant applications, but is also useful for checking your IRMA records are up-to-date.

Staff new to Tableau online can request an account to access the secure online platform. Tableau is protected by MFA (Multi-factor authentication) and researchers have access to their own data only.

Photo of a book next to an hourglass

Don’t forget Researcher Hour!

Have you tried Researcher Hour yet? Why not take this weekly opportunity to chat with other researchers and representatives from the Office of the Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor, Technology Services and Library Services.

Researcher Hour provides a supportive environment where you can address your queries and learn from your peers. It allows researchers from various disciplines to meet informally, discuss challenges, and seek solutions related to:

  • digital research infrastructure
  • IT questions, software, and computational services such as HPC (High Performance Computing)
  • managing your data files
  • support options for analysing your data
  • publishing options and promoting your research
  • Held weekly on Wednesday 12 noon - 1:00pm AEST

Add series to calendar

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Ethics Office news

We want you to build SCU’s ethical research culture

The Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approves all of Southern Cross University’s proposed research projects involving human participants. Sharing your perspectives as a member of the University’s academic community informs how projects are run, and ensures our research has a positive impact locally and globally.

We’re currently seeking Expressions of Interest from researchers (as defined in Section 5.1.30(b) of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2023) to join the HREC.

What makes me eligible?

  • a full-time academic staff member with a teaching/research workload
  • recent human research ethics experience and an understanding of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2023
  • demonstrated ability to apply research methodologies and review applications in accordance with the National Statement

What would I need to do?

  • assess the ethical acceptability of research proposals and attend a monthly three-hour meeting at a Southern Cross University campus and/or online on a Monday afternoon
  • maintain this commitment for the three-year tenure of your membership, and undertake training and professional development related to human research ethics
  • review and provide recommendations on human research based on your expertise and in accordance with Section 5 of the National Statement 2023

Induction training will be provided to successful applicants before your first meeting.

I’m interested! How do I apply?

Please email:

  • a covering letter addressing the criteria
  • what you’d bring to the HREC, and why you’re interested in working in human research ethics
  • a two-page CV
  • letter of support from your Faculty/College Dean or head of work unit

to: [email protected] by 30 May 2024

If you require any further information, please contact the Research Ethics Officer on: [email protected]

Next Human Research Ethics submission dates

Here are the next Ethics Committee meeting and submission cut-off dates – the full 2024 meeting schedule is on the Southern Cross University website.

Human Research Ethics Committee

Meeting date

Submission cut-off date

Monday 3 June

COB Monday 20 May

Please note that all high-risk applications must be reviewed at one of the scheduled meetings by the full HREC. For enquiries, please email: [email protected]

Low-Risk Committee

Meeting date

Submission cut-off date

Monday 20 May

Thursday 9 May

Monday 4 June

Thursday 23 May

Graph showing publications by Southern Cross Researchers

Library News

(Re)Introducing Cross Connect

Southern Cross University’s institutional repository and profiles platform has recently been renamed Cross Connect.

Formerly known as the ‘Research Portal’, Cross Connect now includes enhanced functionality to showcase the publications, achievements and expertise of our academics, researchers, teaching scholars and educational partners.

Cross Connect is the online destination for students, researchers, industry, government and community to discover and engage with the research excellence, teaching innovation and expertise we have here at SCU.

To set up your Cross Connect profile or for any Cross Connect queries, contact the Library team via [email protected].